An anti-gay pastor was charged with sexually assaulting multiple young boys at his Alabama congregation. Police arrested John Martin, a pastor at Lighthouse Baptist Church after members of his congregation reported his crimes to authorities.
According to multiple reports, John Martin confessed to his congregation that he disgraced his family by having sex with two young boys. The confession occurred on June 23, 2019. Members of the group reported Martin’s statements to the Department of Human Resources.
After filing the report, the county forwarded the report to Lauderdale County Sherrif’s Office to investigate Martin. During the investigation, officers determined that Martin assaulted multiple young boys from his congregation.
Court documents obtained by WAAY in Alabama stated that one victim said the abuse started when he was 12 years old. According to the victim, one incident occurred at a birthday party for Martin’s son. The victim told police that Martin climbed into the tent of the boy when everyone else had fallen asleep. While inside the tent, the boy said that Martin touched him.
Another incident with the victim happened on an out of state trip. Again, Martin approached the boy while the others were sleeping and touched him. According to the court records, Martin assaulted boys from his church. Martin performed sex acts on the boys and forced the boys to perform sex acts on him.
In addition to his work as a pastor, Martin worked as a bus driver for a local school. One victim told police that Martin showed him nude photos while he was on the bus. The victim said that on multiple occasions Martin texted him to ask him “if he touched himself” that day.
While speaking with police, the victim admitted that he wanted to report Martin’s abuse multiple times. However, the boy said that he was scared of Martin. Additionally, he said that he would freeze up with Martin began assaulting him.
The charges against Martin are atrocious. One aspect complicating the case is that Martin worked as a pastor at Lighthouse Baptist Church. The church is part of the Independent Fundamental Baptist (IFB) denomination that holds toxic beliefs about the LGBTQ+.
On the church website, they outline their beliefs about homosexuality, marriage, and sex. The site says,
“We believe that any form of homosexuality, lesbianism, bisexuality, bestiality, incest, fornication, adultery, and pornography are sinful perversions of God’s gift of sex. We believe that God disapproves of and forbids any attempt to alter one’s gender by surgery or appearance.”
The church continues,
“We believe that the only legitimate marriage is the joining of one man and one woman.”
The church believes that men are the leaders of the family. Women are not allowed to serve as pastors. Additionally, the church does not believe in divorce and expects members to remain married until they die. Corporal punishment and child abuse are also approved by the church to keep children in line.
According to the church website, Martin began working at the church in 2010. During his tenure, the church credited him with growth to their community. A photo shared on the site indicates Martin is married and has five children.
After the police completed their investigation, they arrested Martin and charged him with four counts of first-degree sexual abuse. A judge in the case set his bond at $60,000. If he can post bail, he will be required to wear an ankle monitor and cannot have contact with minor children.Following his arrest, Martin resigned from his position as the pastor of the church. Due to his job at the church, the Lauderdale County District Attorney believes there are more than two victims in the case. Individuals that are victims of Martin are urged to contact the District Attorney or One Place of Shoals.
Lauderdale County Chief Assistant District Attorney Angie Hamilton said,
“It’s still under investigation,” Hamilton said. “We’re still talking with people. We, with this gentleman’s position, believe he had contact with and access to young people in the area, as well as in other areas and other states.”
Hamilton also thanked church members for reporting Martin’s crimes to the state,
“We thank them for that,” Hamilton said. “Church staff (members) are mandatory reporters, so they did their job in contacting us, and we started investigating the case. He has cooperated with the investigation, as well.”
For now, Martin remains behind bars on the charges. The victims in the case were incredibly brave for coming forward with their stories. Without their honesty, Martin may have never been caught.
According to Alabama sentencing guidelines, Martin faces up to 20 years in prison for each charge of first-degree sexual abuse. If not served concurrently, he could spend up to 80 years in prison if convicted on all charges.
*Katie Joy is a columnist and hosts Without A Crystal Ball on Patheos Non-Religious Channel. She writes articles on parenting, disability advocacy, debunking pseudoscience, atheism, and crimes against women and children.
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